Members of Parliament are elected to the House of Commons to represent the interests and concerns of all the people who live in their constituency, whether they voted for them at the General Election or not. They are only able to deal with issues raised by people who live in their constituency, called constituents.
MPs consider and vote on legislation and use their position to ask government ministers questions about current issues.
They split their time between working in Parliament and working in the constituency. In Parliament, MPs spend their time fighting for the interests of their constituents, attending debates, scrutinising and voting on legislation, and attending meetings. In the constituency, MPs hold advice surgeries for their constituents to come and talk to them about local issues and problems, attend meetings and community events, as well as visiting local organisations and businesses.
Members of Parliament are able to help with all matters for which Parliament or central government departments are responsible for.
When a constituent writes to their MP, they will write to the relevant department, official or Minister involved. Many problems are solved in this way.
Alternatively, if a constituent is happy for the issue to be made public, an MP can ask an oral or written question, secure a debate or petition Parliament.
A list of the main central government ministerial departments is below (click on the titles to learn more):
HM Treasury (HMT) is the government’s economic and finance ministry, maintaining control over public spending, setting the direction of the UK’s economic policy and working to achieve strong and sustainable economic growth.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) promotes the United Kingdom's interests overseas, supporting UK citizens and businesses around the globe.
The first duty of the government is to keep citizens safe and the country secure. The Home Office has been at the front line of this endeavour since 1782. As such, the Home Office plays a fundamental role in the security and economic prosperity of the United Kingdom.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy brings together responsibilities for business, industrial strategy, science, innovation, energy, and climate change.
The Department for Communities and Local Government's (DCLG) job is to create great places to live and work and to give more power to local people to shape what happens in their area.
The Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) exists to help make Britain the world’s most creative and exciting place to live, visit and do business. DCMS protect and promote our cultural and artistic heritage and help businesses and communities to grow by investing in innovation and highlighting Britain as a fantastic place to visit. They help to give the UK a unique advantage in the global race for economic success.
The Department for Education (DfE) is responsible for education, children’s services, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills in England, and equalities. DfE work to achieve a highly educated society in which opportunity is equal for all, no matter what their background or family circumstances.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is the UK government department responsible for safeguarding our natural environment, supporting our world-leading food and farming industry and sustaining a thriving rural economy. Their broad remit means they play a major role in people's day-to-day life, from the food we eat and the air we breathe, to the water we drink.
The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) is responsible for overseeing negotiations to leave the EU and establishing the future relationship between the UK and EU.
The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty, building a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for all of us which is firmly in the UK’s national interest. DFID are ending the need for aid by creating jobs, unlocking the potential of girls and women and helping to save lives when humanitarian emergencies hit.
The Department for Transport (DfT) work with their agencies and partners to support the transport network that helps the UK’s businesses and gets people and goods travelling around the country. They plan and invest in transport infrastructure to keep the UK on the move.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible for welfare, pensions and child maintenance policy. As the UK’s biggest public service department it administers the State Pension and a range of working age, disability and ill health benefits to over 22 million claimants and customers.
The Department of Health (DH) helps people to live better for longer. DH leads, shapes and funds health and care in England, making sure people have the support, care and treatment they need with the compassion, respect and dignity they deserve.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) protects the security, independence and interests of the United Kingdom at home and abroad. The MoD works with our allies and partners whenever possible. Their aim is to ensure that the armed forces have the training, equipment and support necessary for their work and that they keep within budget.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) works to protect the public, reduce reoffending and to provide a more effective, transparent and responsive criminal justice system.
The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) ensures the smooth working of the devolution settlement in Northern Ireland.
The Scotland Office supports the Secretary of State for Scotland in promoting the best interests of Scotland within a stronger United Kingdom. It ensures Scottish interests are fully and effectively represented at the heart of the UK Government.
The Wales Office supports the Secretary of State for Wales in promoting the best interests of Wales within a stronger United Kingdom. It ensures Welsh interests are fully and effectively represented at the heart of the UK Government.
MPs do not have any jurisdiction over Welsh Government or local Council decisions. However, they can write to the Welsh Government or a local Council and ask them to look into a problem or to reconsider an issue. In the first instance, constituents should contact their one of their Welsh Assembly Members or local Councillors.
Oral or written questions
Once a month each minister from each government department answer questions from MPs at the Dispatch Box. There is a limit to the number of questions that can be asked. MPs can also table a written question to the relevant Government department, which are published in Hansard. http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/
MPs may be able to raise a constituent's issue in a half-hour Adjournment Debate. To get an adjournment debate, MPs must be successful in a ballot of Members of Parliament or have the subject chosen by the Speaker. The debates are usually the last business of the day and a government minister responds at the end of the debate.
Members of Parliament can present a petition to Parliament on behalf of their constituents. The format and wording of the petition need to be in a particular way. For more information or guidance, please contact -
Clerk of Public Petitions, Journal Office, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
MPs do not have any jurisdiction over local Council decisions. However, they can write to a local Council and ask them to look into a problem or to reconsider an issue. In the first instance, constituents should contact their local Council or Councillor.